Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Park

To be diplomatic, the take away from my visit to Hiroshima and Tokyo is this: I learned more mankind and myself. Which should be valuable in the long run, I hope. While in the short run, I’m all out of money: lodging, transport. Talk about burning hole in my pocket.
But I, again, digress. Let’s now start with Hiroshima. The purpose of my visit was… doesn’t matter. :P Just let me tell you about the peace memorial park. It’s a vast park hosting, among others, various monuments dedicated to various facets of the atomic bombing. It’s also where the Dome and the Museum located.

Genbaku Dome in a chilly morning. 

As I expected, it was the museum that succeeded to steal my attention. But it was different. I thought that I would be most bothered by the remains of the bomb victims: actual nails, locks of hair, and what-not. After all, that’s what was emphasized on David Sedaris’ account of the museum in When You Are Engulfed in Flames. “Each exhibit was sadder than the last,” he said.
But such is the beauty of a museum. It has different appeal for different people. Sick appeal.
Before I get too tedious, with my rambling, let me just say what really, really bothers me the most: the reason why Japan was chosen as the target of atomic bomb. Not Germany, not Italy.
In a nutshell, it was this: US believed that JP technology was less advanced than German’s; so should the bomb failed to explode, the likelihood of JP army (or navy?) being able to retrieve and picking out the bomb’s technology was slimmer.
That was point one. Lack of knowledge possession can indeed harm a country.
Two, is why the destruction wreaked was so massive. US made a list of potential A-bomb target cities before the actual bombing. The cities under the list was spared from air raids just so when it’s finally hit, the extent of the damage of an atomic bomb can be observed with certainty that those are the damage of an atomic bomb alone. No respect whatsoever of human lives. And if I got my memory straight, there was very little time window between the warning and the strike.
Not that it mattered, anyway. With the toxic black rain that comes after the initial strike and the residual radiation, I wondered if it really was better to perish under the mini-sun (the temperature of explosion was around 5000K, equivalent to the effective temperature of the sun).
It was unfathomable that US has no idea an A bomb will create massive devastation. So why go along with it? Here’s the lesson I learnt:
Men are petty.
Hiroshima was chosen because there was no PoW camp detaining Allied forces there. See, this is typical human. When I have no interest to be protected, might as well swing free. Just how many times we’ve seen conflicts/war/disaster in faraway lands and not moved even an inch to help? But come a conflict where someone we know lives there, and we raise hell.
Also, along the line of the declassified memo, I grasp that there was a pressure to use the atomic bomb against the enemy. Around that time, Japan was already on her knees. Even if the bomb had never been deployed, I believe we would’ve still seen her surrender. Germany had surrendered sometimes earlier, so, again, why bombing it still?
The answer was because Project Manhattan’s budget had ballooned to an astronomical scale. Had the war ended without its contribution, people who run the project would have been put under heavy scrutiny by the US congress. Which means that:
All that matter for men is to save their own asses.
Even further, the action was supported anyway, because the US wanted to limit Soviet’s influence on post-war reconstruction in Japan. At the time of the blow, Soviet had not been openly declared war with Japan, so their contribution to the result can be discounted. In other word, the whole thing is basically a
Battle of ego.
Sadly, I didn’t get very clearly why Nagasaki also got bombed several days later. But suffice it to say that I will need a huge leap of faith to believe in altruism ever again.
The saddest part is that from that time on, the mayor of Hiroshima always send a letter of appeal to countries conducting nuclear weapon test each time a test is conducted. They have a huge wall filled with the copy of all the letters sent. Impassionate, rational pleas. All but fall to deaf ears.
From that point on, every time I’m in a debate and got the side arguing for nuclear weapon, it feels like a little part of something dies within me.
Which if you happen to read my Tokyo chronicles, it really is my luck, no?

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